The First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond and Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, sign the referendum agreement in St Andrew's House, Edinburgh

Q: "Do you agree that _______ should become sovereign after having made a formal offer to _______ for a new economic and political partnership within the scope of _______ and of the agreement signed _______?"

Q: "The _______ should negotiate a new settlement with the _______, based on the proposals set out in the _______, so that _______ becomes a sovereign and independent state."

We don't know the exact wording of the question that will be put to Scotland's voters in two years' time, but it's not hard to imagine it looking something like one of these two texts.

Redacted, each reads exactly like the overly complicated legalese that's designed to produce a definitive result but really just creates forehead-wrinkling confusion.

The top question was put to Quebec's voters 17 years ago on an electric October night that saw the young Confederation of Canada survive by the skin of its proverbial teeth. Voters rejected the idea of full Quebec Sovereignty by the narrowest of margins: 50.6 percent to 49.4 percent.

The bottom question (or something very similar) is likely to form the centrepiece of Scotland's 300-year push for independence.

But is this a mistake by the Nationalists?

Debate among the politically inclined in Canada still rages to this day as to both the question and the mechanics of the 1995 Quebec Referendum, with many arguing that a few subtle tweaks, and one rather obvious change, could have easily tipped the balance towards the Separatists.

Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, looks determined to avoid those errors even as the evolution of his Scottish National Party, and the Separatist movement he personifies, bears an uncanny similarity to Jacques Parizeau's losing effort as leader of the Parti Québecois (PQ) two decades ago.

'Aye' or 'Oui'?

Both Scottish and Quebecois parliaments were emboldened by constitutional tinkering by self-styled reforming Prime Ministers with broad political and popular mandates: Pierre Trudeau and the Canada Act in 1982 and Tony Blair and the Scotland Act in 1998.

Both the SNP the PQ were swept into majority power following elections that turfed out a long standing, but unpopular incumbent (Quebec's Liberals in 1994; Scotland's Labour Party in 2011).

And both quickly vowed to put the issue of independence at the centre of their government strategy, using a combination of arguments focusing on cultural identity and an economic self-reliance based on natural resources (hydro-electricity in Quebec; oil in Scotland).

But where the PQ's efforts failed, Salmond and his SNP brethren look to have crafted their differences.

The wording of the Quebec Referendum's question was a major issue in 1995, even as the support for independence gathered. In fact polls showed significantly more appetite for Parizeau's version of Sovereignty than for Salmond's throughout most of the campaign.

However, a late - and controversial - poll published on the eve of the 30 October vote showed that nearly a third of Quebecers thought - incorrectly - that answering "Oui" to the referendum question would still allow them to retain Canadian passports and send parliamentarians to Ottawa. While some suggested subterfuge from the Liberal government of then Prime Minister Jean Chretien, the revelation no doubt spooked some voters back into the "non" camp.

The "Unity" conspiracy

A massive - some say illegal - federally-funded "Unity Rally" in the heart of Montreal only three nights before the vote didn't hurt, either.

And more than a few experts have surmised that the PQ may have won had it secured the right for 16 and 17 year olds to vote - a move that was staunchly opposed by Chretien at the time. Given that the "Oui" tally was only 53,000 votes short of a win, it's a compelling argument.

Salmond's canny tactics might see him avoid one of those pitfalls - but he could also potentially plunge into either of the other two.

Taking no chances with the demographics - and no doubt the attractive lure of free tuition at Scottish universities - Salmond looks to have arranged for 16 and 17 year old voters to cast a ballot in the 2014 poll, although pollsters suggest this will likely only add around 0.2 percent to the final tally.

However, even though the referendum date has yet to be agreed, it looks as if it will fall sometime in late October of the same year, just as Scots will have played host to both the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup.

Will these events act as potential "Unity Rally" opportunities for those wishing to keep Great Britain together? The London Olympics - and the patriotism it generated - certainly offer an excellent template if Prime Minister David Cameron were so inclined.

And then, of course, there's the nature of the referendum question itself.

Its eerie similarity to the dual-language ballot of 1995 should come as no surprise given that senior Scottish National Party officials have consulted with their opposite numbers in the PQ as recently as 2010.

A clear mandate?

But its opacity remains an issue - perhaps deliberately so.

Salmond can read the polls better than any of us and must know, in his heart of hearts, that winning a majority mandate to negotiate independence with Westminster is highly unlikely if not mathematically impossible.

Winning a plurality of "yesses" that would allow him and the SNP to continue to drive selective political and economic independence, however, while maintaining the comfort of trade simplicity and military security appears well within his grasp.

In other words, stringing out the threat of separation without having to go through the messy reality of actually seceding could suit the SNP very well. Especially if some sort of "Unity Rally" event provides Salmond the ammunition to allege some sort of London-orchestrated 'fix'.

The PQ's all-or-nothing approach effectively cast them - and the Separatist movement - into the political wilderness for the better part of two decades, having only just regained a minority in the Quebec National Assembly last month.

Meanwhile, support for sovereignty amongst Quebecers sits at a lowly 28 percent and the federal version of the PQ, the Bloc Quebecois, is largely an irrelevance in national politics.

And that's probably the one result Salmond would most like to avoid.